Safe Together

From Us vs. Them to We the People
by Zachary Norris


Publication Date: February 04, 2020

ISBN: 9780807029701

Binding: Hardback

Availability: Unpublished

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A new vision of a care-based strategy for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based containment, caging, and punishment

The criminal court system fails to address many of society's most harmful activities because it can't or won't apply itself to some of our largest problems. The real threats to our safety are not coming from a few "incorrigible" bad apples; they come from massive institutions and "-isms" like racism and capitalism - injustices that we all have a hand in upholding. These threats even come from within our own families and communities.

As more and more Americans report feeling less safe, it's clear that our current justice system isn't working. We must create safety within our communities, safety through our communities. Yet the current criminal justice system is built on separation. Systematic dehumanization--blaming our problems on a subset of criminals who aren't like Us--has never worked to maintain safety. It only maintains the status quo for the powerful few. When we allow the scapegoating of entire communities, we decrease our societal capacity to hold powerful institutions and individuals accountable. We can't get to lasting safety by insulating ourselves from mythical external threats with border walls; we can't get to real safety by expelling or confining certain kinds of people.

In order to truly be safe, we are going to have to transcend the mythical divisions of Us vs. Them. There is no Them, there's only "We." And that We, the fabric of American society, is always evolving and expanding. Real safety happens when we bridge the divides and build relationships with each other, overcoming suspicion and distrust. Real safety comes from strategic, smart investments--meaning resources directed towards our stability and well-being, like healthcare and housing, clean air and water. Real safety addresses the harms that the current system is failing to tackle, whether that means systemic racism or #MeToo, and